Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Scarlet Monastery Lobby

The call came out over guild chat: “Cyn, we need you at SM. Hurry.”

I was already mounted and galloping out of Southshore before I stopped to get details; when you call out for a PvPer to help in a low-level instance, it’s usually not to down a boss. There’s guild honor to be upheld – and butts to be kicked.

PvP outside of a battleground is a street fight. Any concept of a fair, balanced fight goes out the window, and you use every advantage you can — or you lose.

The lobby of The Scarlet Monastery on a Saturday night resembles Grand Central Station, with dozens of Alliance and Horde groups running between the different instances. The low ceilings, bad lighting, and pillars create a nightmare of a battlefield. Ambushes can take advantage of party members who stray too far, and AoE can hit those who stay too close together. I spent a lot of time with Shadowfury targeting all of my opponents, waiting for them to unflag.

World PvP on a PvE server involves a lot of watching for the right moment to unflag and attack. Fighting in the SM Lobby presents an unique opportunity to quickly unflag – jumping in and out of an instance resets your PvP flag, and both sides used that to their advantage. No one knew who would jump in, and who would sit on the sideline.

As a Destruction Warlock, Shadowfury is very helpful in managing opponents in tight quarters. You can stun them as they unflag, or as they’re making a break for a portal. Even more useful is your Demonic Circle – being able to teleport around a pillar is a key ability. I wish I’d used it more, to be honest.

The terrain of the lobby actually serves as a great practice ground for other battlegrounds. You have to maintain situational awareness and learn to force the disadvantages on your foes, and not suffer them yourself.

Now if only I’d seen that Pally in the shadows, healing the Rogue and Druid…

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50 Stone Keeper’s Shards, the new PvE Achievement

I haven’t been in Wintergrasp that long, but I’ve been there long enough to see that [Stone Keeper’s Shards] are the currency you want to collect, if for no other reason than to get Heirloom Shoulders for your alts with their nifty +10% XP bonus.

But there’s another reason: those pesky Achievements. You know, the ones that you need for Master of Wintergrasp?

Well, if you’re like me and just started in on the Wintergrasp Dailies, you better get used to running PvE instances. Since the 3.1.1 patch shards earned by doing the PvP quests don’t count towards the achievements. Only shards that you get from bosses count, making this the first PvP achievement that requires only PvE play to achieve.

I’ll let that one sink in for a bit. Maybe it will make more sense to you than it has to me.

You know, if I hadn’t already given up on Battlemaster before now, I sure would be pissed. When you see that you’ve gotten 225 shards:

225 Stone Keeper's Shards.png

but only 7 of them have counted:

50 Stone Keeper's Shards.png

… it’s hard to not to think that this is bugged.

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Wintergrasp Keep

Wintergrasp Keep.png

Despite it’s problems, I’ve come to like Wintergrasp Keep.

The keep is divided into 4 zones, of which attackers must pass through 2 to get to the goal. That’s a minimum of 3 walls that must be destroyed by siege to come down, including the wall protecting the relic. By isolating it into 3 outer zones (east, south, west) and an inner keep, the designers have made it more difficult to defend than a ring keep would be — the sight lines are all blocked, and you can not tell at a glance where the enemy are located.

In and of itself, the layout of the keep lends itself to focused fighting in each specific area. This is good for the side which doesn’t have Tenacity, which is almost always Alliance on Durotan. But it’s not really good, because as soon as you cluster people together, the real enemy of Wintergrasp appears: lag. Lag takes the game out of your control — you get killed and don’t find out until 10 seconds later, you lose the game before you even see the engines storm the keep. (Sadly, Patch 3.1.2 didn’t do much to fix this. No surprise there.)

Since you can’t do much about the lag, you can at least do something about focusing your strength where the enemy is weak. The picture above shows how not to do this — by breaching the walls on either side of the south zone, the Horde allowed the Alliance defenders to switch back and forth between the two fronts without yielding the inner keep. The keep can, and should, be used against the defenders to split them apart and divide their forces.

I’ve noticed that the best, quickest attacks don’t divide their forces. There is a buildup of good vehicles (Demolishers, not Catapults) that attack en masse from the northern workshops, either as a single wave or two waves that meet at the middle wall and punch through. The defenders are caught without engines of their own, the southern towers are safe, and you can focus all your fire on knocking down those three walls.

I’m still gearing up, and the PvP rewards out of Wintergrasp are too good to pass up. But I find the battle for the Keep itself to be fascinating, and I’d play it even if I were maxed out. I wonder what the next one will bring?

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